This is a moment to pause and to celebrate. It is time to lift up Indigenous Peoples in Canada who have worked for decades to have their rights recognized and honoured by the Government of Canada.
But we can only pause briefly. Getting Bill C-15 (An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) across the finish line, is, in many ways, just the beginning. The work of aligning Canadian laws with the UN Declaration is the next critical order of business.
We are grateful to Minister Lametti, to the House of Commons, and to the Canadian Senate for bringing this critical piece of legislation forward. We are immensely grateful also to Romeo Saganash, Dr. Kenneth Deer, Chief Wilton Littlechild, and the many, many others that dedicated themselves to the development of the UN Declaration and its passage into Canadian law.
Passage of Bill C-15 comes just days ahead of June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, and is a fitting step towards recognizing the nation-to-nation relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples of this land. Work must begin immediately “in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples … [to] prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration.” We will continue to follow this legislation and engage with government leaders to make sure the commitments outlined in this bill are acted upon.
At Citizens for Public Justice, we remain steadfastly committed to reconciliation and honouring the rights of Indigenous Peoples in our work and ways of being. We will therefore redouble our efforts to address the specific realities of Indigenous Peoples disproportionately impacted by poverty and climate change as a result of colonization.